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I Run a Photography Business. What Contracts do I Need?

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Are you a photographer operating as a sole trader or owner of a small to medium sized photography business? You will need contracts to govern your day-to-day working relationships with clients and employees. These contracts include:

  1. client agreement;
  2. website terms of use;
  3. privacy policy;
  4. employment agreement; and
  5. independent contractor’s agreement.  

This article explains what these type of contracts are and what you need to include in those agreements.

What Contracts do I Need?

Deciding what contracts you will need to run your photography business will depend on:

  • the size of your business;
  • the types of customers you have;
  • whether you have a website; and
  • if you have employees.
Question Your Answer What You’ll Need
Are your customers mainly individuals? Yes You will need a short form client agreement.
Do you have a website where you publish your photos? Yes

You’ll need a website terms of use.

You may also want a privacy policy.

Do you have any employees? Yes You will need an employment agreement.
No, I usually engage contractors. You will need an independent contractor’s agreement.


Client Agreement

A client agreement is an agreement that you can use to engage individual clients or customers that are businesses.  A client agreement will include provisions that deal with:

  • how your customers pay you;
  • what services you’ll be providing, such as taking photos at a customer’s wedding, editing the photos in your studio and providing your customers with a selection of final shots;
  • how any intellectual property rights in your photos will be managed and licensed to the customer; 
  • how you or the client can end the agreement; and 
  • the way you limit or exclude your liability under the agreement, such as for events out of your control or consequential losses. 

For example, your camera breaks and you are unable to provide a customer with photos from their wedding day. As a consequential loss, the married couple are extremely disappointed. You may not want to be held liable for any mental harm suffered from the disappointment of not getting their photos. 

A client agreement should be tailored to suit your business needs but flexible enough for meet each customer’s brief. Therefore, you do not need to draft multiple contracts for every new customer.  

Website Terms of Use

If you have a website, you will need a simple document which establishes the terms on which customers agree to use your website. A website terms of use will usually have provisions dealing with privacy, intellectual property and a disclaimer regarding any representations you make on the website. 

For example, you can have a disclaimer around the statement on “We have the expertise to ensure every moment from your event is captured in stunning photos”. 

Website terms of use are also important if you are a photographer who uses a website to showcase their portfolio of photography for prospective clients. 

For example, your terms of use can state that someone is not allowed to copy or use the photos on your website without your permission. 

You may also want a privacy policy, which can be included in the terms of use. The privacy policy govern covers how you hold and store your customer’s personal information.

For example, the privacy policy can state that you collect names and email addresses so that you can send them a personalised email newsletter outlining photography discounts.

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Employment Agreement   

If you have employees, you will need to ensure you have an employment agreement which complies with the law. Your obligations as an employer include providing your employees with statutory entitlements and paying part of their salary into superannuation.

You will need to avoid sham contracting. A ‘sham contract‘ describes the practice of an employer passing off an employment relationship as a contractor arrangement rather than an employee.  The federal government and ATO provide tools that can help you decide if you are an employee or independent contractor.

Independent Contractor’s Agreement

Once you have ensured that you engage photographers as independent contractors and not employees, you can engage them using an independent contractor’s agreement. This agreement is useful if you engage freelancers to do photoshoots on an occasional basis.

Independent contractor’s agreements are designed to be flexible. You can issue the agreement to a contractor when they first agree to perform services for you. Therefore, every time you need help with a photoshoot, you can issue a work order to the independent contractor for them rather than a whole new contract. 

Your agreement should cover:

  • the types of services the contractor will be providing;
  • how you will pay them for their services;
  • their obligations, such as how contractors can pay their taxes, super or supply their own camera or tripod for events; and
  • how any intellectual property (such as photos) created under the agreement will be owned and licensed for the client’s use. 


A release form is another important agreement you will want to have in place. A model release form will be particularly relevant where you are using models in your photographs. If you are taking photos of a model, you will need the rights to use the photos in, for example, advertisements.

A model release form will typically:

  1. grant you rights to use of photographs;
  2. set out the purpose for which you may use the photos;
  3. explain that you are not legally responsible for any claims from the model; and 
  4. set out that any intellectual property rights (including copyright) in the photos will likely be owned by you.

Key Takeaways

As a photographer or owner of a photography business, the type of photography contracts you need will depend on your business needs. Contracts help protect your business from unwanted liability and clarify working relationships so you can focus on growing your business. Your business should consider having a:

  • client agreement;
  • website terms of use;
  • employment agreement; and
  • independent contractor’s agreement.  

If you have questions or need assistance in preparing contracts for your photography business, get in touch with LegalVision’s contract lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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